GCU, high school students immerse themselves in the anatomy of an internship
Story of Lana Sweeten-Shults
Pictures of Ralph Freso
GCU News Desk
Kristine Kim never wanted to become an engineer.
“The engineering field was something I was not interested in at all,” said the Arizona College Prep High School junior. But she decided to go against the grain and throw caution to the wind. “My dad is an engineer and I always said to my dad, ‘No, I’m not going to engineering. It seems so boring.
“But I decided to do something that I was NOT interested in, just to put myself in an environment with new opportunities.”
It was there that she spent a lot of time testing and tinkering with a prototype cane using materials available to everyone. Kim is developing the prototype alongside three other biomedical engineering interns.
The evolution of the walking cane is something she puts into her daily report at the dinner table to her father, who hears snippets of his days this summer at GCU: days that involve exploring (enthusiastic) devices. of medical and other equipment, to learn about basic biomedical engineering concepts and, of course, to work on the walking cane prototype.
“He gets so excited when I tell him,” Kim said with a smile.
What she and the other interns are doing in designing the walking cane is developing a competition module for the upcoming International Christian STEM Competition, being introduced on the GCU campus this spring in partnership with the Association of Christian Schools. International.
” It’s a big problem. They bring in teams from all over the world,” Kwartowitz said of the event.
ACSI has not entered a biomedical engineering competition before. Organizers weren’t sure what would be doable for high school teams for a small amount of money and a limited time. Kim and her fellow interns, within the parameters of their module, ask teams to develop a walking cane using $50 worth of materials.
“We let the trainees do it partly because their peers will actually be the ones entering this competition. Let them develop the competition and see what they can do, then base the competition on what they are capable of because this program attracts the best and the brightest,” Kwartowitz said of the high school interns, who had to apply to be chosen for the program.
Students then have the opportunity in the fall and spring to mentor other Christian high school students as they prepare for the contest, which former interns have done.
K12 Educational Development launched the internships in response to high school teachers who were looking for more science, technology, engineering and math opportunities for their students. In just one year, the program has more than doubled, “just through word of mouth,” said Corinne ArazaSenior Project Manager of K12 STEM Outreach.
Kim is one of more than two dozen of the best and brightest students from four high schools who integrate with campus STEM teachers and GCU student mentors. They will be on campus until the end of July for their internship, organized by K12 Educational Development in partnership with Honors College. In addition to the four biomedical engineering interns, other students are studying exercise science, coding/programming, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence/machine learning.
They will spend 100 to 200 hours in these internships this summer – five days a week – with some having to come to campus in person and others, such as computer programming and artificial intelligence interns, splitting their time between in-person meetings. and connect online through dedicated Slack channels.
Groups of students break up Monday through Thursday as they settle into the labs of their specific disciplines, then meet on Fridays for professional development. The Honors College covers topics such as social media, resume development, and technology tools for STEM success (such as Slack, Teams, and Discord).
AI/Machine Learning Intern Stephanie Fan, who will be a junior at Desert Vista High School this fall, was busy working on coding for an upcoming Amazon Web Services Deep Racer contest co-sponsored by partner Discount Tire. She and the other three AI/Machine Learning interns are programming futuristic-looking model vehicles so these robots can learn to drive on their own. They will pilot the cars autonomously alongside GCU students who are part of the campus’ undergraduate research and design program.
Fan had never had an interest in robots before, but her level of interest in robots has skyrocketed since she started the internship under the guidance of jevon jacksonprogram chair and head of the software engineering program.
“I’m very excited to get the robot out on the track as quickly as possible,” she said.
Fan, who plans to go into software engineering, is also learning the Python programming language, as well as all types of machine learning and reinforcement learning.
Paradise Valley High School Junior Atharva Goel also dove into cybersecurity as part of his AI/machine learning internship and researched blockchain technology.
“It was really cool to hear that,” Goel said.
Like Fan, he is excited about the Deep Racer competition, tentatively scheduled for July 14. “I think it’s going to be pretty fun,” he said.
What was really cool for Jackson was seeing how much the students had learned just three weeks into their internship: “For most of them, it was their first exposure to coding. These students are so bright,” he said.
BASE Scottsdale Junior Praneetha Tangallpalli spends much of his summer as an intern with Professor Michael Bodeenanatomy and dissection laboratory. GCU is one of the few undergraduate colleges that allows students to get hands-on experience with cadavers, and about 15 of the high school’s STEM interns do just that.
“By week 2, the trainees had already had the opportunity to dissect a human brain,” said the Dean of the Honors College. dr. Breanna Naegeli. It was the big topic of conversation of the week. They also learned about effective teamwork, collaboration strategies and various communication platforms.
Tangallpalli, whose dream is to become a doctor specializing in infectious disease research, is one of four trainees working on the dissection of the thoracic and abdominal region of the corpse. She said she noticed how much she enjoyed her biology class and looking through microscopes.
When she first walked into a pathology lab, “it really energized me,” she said of her passion for science.
One thing she said that was a game-changer for her was a recent talk by Bodeen. He explained that he always watches how people walk when he is in a mall or other public space.
“Are they tottering to one side?” Do they have their feet turned? Is there something wrong with their shin? he mused. “As doctors, you go beyond that. What kind of trouble would that cause a person? What does this really mean? That’s what doctors should do…go beyond.
“It stuck with me,” Tangallpalli said.
“This kind of opportunity, I’m glad I found it, really. This lab? It was big enough for me.
What was important to Arizona College Prep junior Kenan Kao in the biomedical engineering lab were all the Kwartowitz machines and GCU junior biomedical engineering Alma Orozco have introduced students to over the past few weeks.
“The best thing was probably seeing all the equipment,” Kao said, explaining how he and the other biomedical engineering interns later in the day were going to see how a CT scanner works. “We’re going to scan some arteries,” he said enthusiastically. “We are going to work with anatomy children.”
Arizona College Prep Junior Gauri Murkoth gushed about having started working with an ultrasound machine the day before. “We were able to scan my wrist, his (Kao’s) eyes. It was cool to see all the images.
Creating the walking stick prototype was also fun, Murkoth added, “just learning from chess.”
Orozco, who worked on a project for the Biomedical Engineering Society this summer, volunteered to mentor high school biomedical engineering interns alongside Kwartowitz.
“What I liked the most about mentoring was being able to help them beyond their project (for the International Christian STEM Competition). I was able to answer questions and develop their interest in biomedical engineering , something I’m passionate about,” Orozco said. “I also loved being able to learn from this experience with them.”
As for Kim, who was decidedly against becoming an engineer like her father, she changed her mind.
“I had no idea I would be interested in engineering,” she said, and regarding her list of what she wants to do with her life? “I know for sure that engineering has been added to the list.”
GCU Senior Editor Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.
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